Another Reason "Cash is King"
Credit cards (along with debit cards) are a convenient way to avoid carrying large sums of cash to make purchases.
Under U.S. law, if a credit card is lost or stolen, your liability is limited to US$50, so long as you promptly notify the issuing bank of the loss. (No such limit exists for debit cards, however.)
However, there are hidden costs to credit and debit cards - including privacy. In the United States, records of purchases with your card aren't your property, and can be bought, sold or rented to anyone. Naturally, government agencies have access to this data as well. That means your record of card purchases can lead to an IRS audit or even your placement on a terrorist watch list.
Now, there's yet another risk to using credit or debit cards - identity theft. It turns out that the data security standards used to guard your card records are woefully inadequate. That's how hackers managed to steal credit and debit card information on 45.7 million shoppers from retail giant TJX, the owner of T.J. Maxx, Marshalls and Bob's Stores. The hackers gained access through a poorly secured wireless network that managed the cash registers and terminals.
Despite a market cap of nearly US$13 billion, TJX's wireless network employed less protection than many people use on their home Internet systems. And you have no way of knowing if other retailers have similar vulnerabilities.
So, how do you protect yourself? That's easy. Just go back to paying cash when you shop. Cash is private, and there's no way for anyone to trace your cash transactions, much less steal your identity.
One precaution, though: Beware of cash for really large purchases. Under U.S. law, any trade or business that receives more than US$10,000 from a customer in a single transaction, or a series of related transactions, is required to make a report to the U.S. Treasury on Form 8300. Just a word to the wise!